Hutchen / LJ Hutchen

Hutchen

This Chinese hard rubber clarinet is currently sold (as of December 2011) via Amazon.com, Hyson Music, http://www.ljhutchen.com, and http://www.pauleffmanmusic.com. The reviews seem to be quite enthusiastic. Paul Effman is the sponsor/designer of the instrument, and the one behind all of the sales outlets mentioned above. Paul generously allowed me to review this instrument.

27Feb2014: Note that the Hutchen line has been updated with the LJH-CL3 reviewed here. That model is made of plastic, and I liked the intonation better than this hard rubber model.

Serial  #none
Barrel: 62.4mm (This short barrel is typical for Chinese hard rubber instruments.)
Bore LH joint top: 14.6mm
Bore LH joint at bottom: 14.6mm This is NOT poly-cylindrical.


Intonation results taken when playing loud and not lipping. See how to interpret these results on the Model Comparison Page.




For this test, I pulled very slightly, about 0.2 mm at the barrel. Do not pull in the center for this horn!
High register
DaTuner

F-5

E0

D0

C0

B2

B-flat-2

A-4
Mid


G-4

F-1

E2

D3

C0

B2
Throat tones


B-flat7/0 lipping or with resonance fingering

A2

G3

F0

E0
Chalemeau


D9

C4

B-flat8

A8

G-10

F-20

E-4


Intonation summary: This is pretty good intonation. It is will work fine for beginning students.
It is a bit weird that there is flatness around clarion F, G and A, but one can lip those up. The Chalemeau D is way sharp. The tone hole is offset, just like my Ridenour clarinet. I took out my Ridenour and tested that I wasn’t just playing weird today. Nope, the Ridenour plays much more in tune. I always start testing in the lower register, and when I saw sharpness there, I pulled in the center. However one cannot do that with this horn! It makes the clarion  G and F intolerably flat.

Key work quality: Looks good, but I am not going to bend things to find out more. The crowfoot extension (below right pinkie) is a generously thick 2.9mm. The thumb rest looks very secure and thick. The pads on this new instrument came seating well.

This clarinet is most appropriate for: This is a good beginner horn and one can get it new for a little over $200. Because of intonation being somewhat unusual in the Clarion register, and the sharp Chalemeau D, other major brands of beginning clarinets are still better. I do like this being a hard rubber horn, like my Ridenour. This instrument is way better than some Chinese plastic and hard rubber clarinets I have seen. A couple of other advantages: Mr. Effman makes sure that the Hutchen is being sold with a better than average case and a good mouthpiece.

Information from Justin Varuzzo, who works for Paul Effman Music:

I just had this email forwarded to me from Mr. Effman. I handle all internet sales / relations, so he passed this onto me. I’d appreciate the opportunity to send you a sample for review. We have an excellent student clarinet, and believe there is nothing else in the price range that matches the quality. Obviously your very familiar with Chinese instruments, factories, etc.

One thing that always set us apart from the rest is we set the instruments up ourselves here in the US. Many companies simply move boxes, and you would find huge variances if purchasing some well known Chinese “name-brands”. In the end we’re not claiming to have a product that is somehow magically far better than some other similarly priced Chinese instruments, however by setting up each and everyone we do have an incredibly consistent product and are able weed out any instruments that don’t make the mark.

With that said, we have improved some of the issues many other comparable instruments suffer, and this where Paul’s time in China, at the factory has resulted in improvements in our clarinet. Paul has done things with mouthpieces, cork thicknesses, pip sizes, and other subtle things that have improved intonation. We have greatly improved key strength, have built a custom heavy-duty bridge key, and other things to create a more durable clarinet with students in mind.

It’s also most important to know how this started for us, Paul Effman Music Service is a nationwide music educator that servers over 500 schools and 15,000 students. In the late 90’s we started to experience a problem with students dropping our programs after coming in with poorly made instruments. Paul set out to find an inexpensive instrument that could compete without impeding on the ability of a student to learn. He has been relentless over the past decade in improving the product (for example, our LJ Hutchen clarinet has come in an American made case from day one). We simply could not, and still have not found a suitable case that compares to the old Artley case that we still use today.

One thing we also do is market the instrument honestly. This is not a Yamaha YCL-250, and it is not a Buffet B12, or a Selmer USA 1400 (CL-1), or a Vito. All of those brands are $500+, and we sell these for less than half the price. These are designed for beginning students as a great alternative to renting, and will get most students into high school without issue (4-5 years exp). Obviously, if children progress they will need to consider more expensive alternatives (250’s, 450’s, B12, E11’s, etc).

We’ve also found markets vary. As you are probably aware in most parts of Texas it is the norm for rental shops to rent beginners E11’s and YCL-400AD intermediate wood clarinets. This is unheard of in New York markets (where we are located). We would never encourage any parent calling from one of these school districts to purchase an LJ Hutchen as a great alternative. Quite the opposite, we are also authorized Yamaha, Buffet, and Conn-Selmer dealers so we have just as much incentive (if not more) to sell a $1400 E11 over a $220 LJ Hutchen.

Finally, our service is simply beyond any student manufacturer without question. 90% of our repairs are completed within 24-hours, with most being repaired and turned around in the same day! This even puts us ahead of most local repair shops that usually run about a week for a repair. We always pay shipping to get the instrument back to the customer, and any problems within 30-days we pay shipping both ways or simply exchange the instrument for a new one.

We also have two fully stocked repair facilities, parts are always available and rarely ever on backorder, and we ship most parts same day.

To answer some of your questions, our clarinet is made of hard-rubber (heavy duty ebonite). Unfortunately the terms ebonite, resonite, resin, ABS, and others all seem to be used “at will” nowadays, devaluing the actual meaning of any of the terms. I’m not at liberty to say the specific factory that manufacturers the LJ Hutchen clarinet, but it’s one that manufacturers a respected, brand-name clarinet. I’m going to look into the bore, I’m by no means an expert and don’t have this answer off hand.

In terms of dealer-net pricing, we actually had worked very hard over the first half of the 2000’s building a dealer network. Ultimately, we found a few years ago that it was more trouble than it was worth and decided to cancel all dealerships. We now sell exclusively through out site, and have a deal w/ Amazon. However, even with Amazon, we find much more control in providing support when we have a direct link to a customer. As a professional educator, I personally was able to prevent 9 out of 10 returns on an instrument, as most of the time a problem is a chipped reed, a ligature is not assembled correctly, a trumpet valve is turned, etc. Once we become a wholesaler we lose that personal connection and it is unfortunate, which is ultimately why we scrapped the dealer network.

One last thing I will reiterate, is Paul is always looking to improve this product, and always open to ideas that could improve the product. If you find shortfalls please know that we take it very seriously and will relentlessly pursue correcting or improving them. On a side note, we do have a wood clarinet that is being manufactured (made of Ebony), and will be available 1st quarter 2012 that blows away anything in its price range!

We have quite a hectic week going into the holiday, can we touch base next week and arrange to get you a clarinet sample?

Thanks,

Justin Varuzzo

Paul Effman Music

And from Paul himself:

Phil
 
Other companies buy as cheap as they can and end up turning killing music for countless students.
Ten years ago my students were showing up with pink flutes and yellow clarinets purchased at Costco.
 
I started LJ Hutchen so that children would have affordable instruments which would not inhibit their progress.
Many of the people who buy my instruments are also part of a nationwide educational program which I founded
 
If my instruments are problematic, I am endangering music education.
Sounds corny but this comes from my heart.
I am a guy who has taught and played for 45+ years.
My clarinet factory works with me when it comes to subtle changes.
I welcome input from qualified sources.
Sincerely,
Paul Effman

 
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